KOCHI: Realising the need to conserve verdure such as mangrove wetlands, the Social Forestry Department has put forth a proposal to the State Government to reserve 50 hectares of mangrove forests at Puthuvype.
The proposal has been currently forwarded to the Conservator of Forests which will be further sent to the State Government. “The proposal was prepared to cite the uniqueness of the site, richness of the area and the diversity of the species. Once the state government gives the nod, they will prepare a notification and appoint a settlement officer. However, the final declaration must arrive from the Central Government, which would be based on the report prepared by the State Government,”said M A Anaz, assistant conservator of forests, Ernakulam.
“Even though the area is proposed to be reserved, the proposed land will have the same status of a reserved forest. Further modifications or the construction of new buildings cannot be done,” Anaz said.How easy is it to reserve such land? “The entire region belongs to the government. Therefore, taking over the land and notifying it as proposed is rather easy. The status has to be modified,” Anaz said.
The circumstances would have clashed had the land come under private ownership. “If you travel from Thevara, you will notice that mangroves continuously thrive across. Albeit, on private land. On such land, mangroves are extensively cut as individuals are unaware of its advantages. We’re trying to protect the existing ones and avoid further encroachment,” he said.
In the 1980s, the wetlands of Ernakulam was abundant in mangrove forests. However, with the city rapidly developing into a metropolitan hub, around 554 acres of mangroves along with variant species were destroyed over a period of 10 years, 2005-2010. Experts say that ecological deterioration has claimed such forests.
“The symbiotic ecosystem protects shorelines from erosions and storm surges thereby stabilizing the coast. In fact, mangrove belts have mostly disappeared in the coastal areas. They also act as a breeding space for aquatic forms,” said Ramachandran, vice-chancellor, KUFOS.The current proposed land includes species such as Avicenia Officinlis, Acanthus Illicifolius, Rhizhophora Mucronata, R Candelaria, Bruguiera Cylindrical and Kandelia Candel.